Former Pride and Strikeforce champion Dan Henderson could really use a statement win over perennial contender Vitor Belfort this weekend at UFC Fight Night 32 on Saturday after two consecutive losses.
As he revealed on Monday's edition of Ariel Helwani's The MMA Hour, "Hendo" has a lot more riding on this fight than just his ranking in the UFC's light heavyweight division:
"Yeah, I’m not planning on retiring and I’m not planning on going anywhere," he said after stating the Belfort bout is the last one on his contract. "Coming off of two losses in my last two fights, that doesn’t help for negotiating. So there’s a little more pressure on this fight, but I’m pretty sure this fight will be exciting regardless."
The 19-year fight veteran believes that even in a worst-case scenario where he loses this weekend, he will remain a fighter on the UFC roster: "I think they will (offer me a new deal), but it might not be as great as a deal as I have now."
After posting a 3-1 mark inside the Strikeforce cage, Henderson made his UFC debut with a back-and-forth war against Mauricio "Shogun" Rua at UFC 139 in November 2011, which various media outlets deemed "Fight of the Year."
However, after pulling out a scheduled title bout with champ Jon Jones at the eventually cancelled UFC 151 last September, Henderson has dropped split decision losses to Lyoto Machida and Rashad Evans.
Meanwhile, Belfort is in the midst of a 5-1 run at middleweight, most recently including headkick knockouts over Michael Bisping and Luke Rockhold.
"The Phenom," a former UFC titleholder at 205 pounds, is one of the most heavily criticized fighters in the sport for his documented usage of testosterone replacement therapy.
On the other hand, many fans may not even be aware that the 43-year-old Henderson is also a user of the controversial treatment.
The former Olympic-level Greco Roman wrestler believes the reason he is never grouped in the same conversation as Belfort, at least as far as TRT is concerned, is pretty obvious:
I think it all has to do with him not getting an exemption to fight outside of Brazil...Based on him testing positive before they won’t give him an exemption in the States. I don’t take that much, and I didn’t take it for the Canada fight my last fight, and I really didn’t notice a change. It wouldn’t matter that much to me whether I was on it or not, especially just for one fight. It’s a matter of being healthier, just as a lifestyle for me, and what the doctors prescribe to be healthier as a person. So it’s not anything that a few months is going to matter.
As it turns out, Belfort failed a post-fight drug test for the anabolic steroid 4-Hydroxytestosterone, per MMA Weekly, after his first bout with Henderson at Pride 32 in October 2006.
Henderson won a clear-cut decision over his Brazilian counterpart, utilizing his wrestling advantage for the majority of the bout.
On the other hand, the Team Quest co-founder has never failed a drug test and has never been known for having an overly muscular physique.
For the record, this rematch also marks the fifth time (in five bouts) Belfort has fought overseas since January 2012. UFC Fight Night 32 takes place in Goiania, Brazil.
Will Henderson be able to replicate his performance from seven years ago or will Belfort's aggressive and unorthodox striking net a different result this time around?